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Appetite and emotion: Integrative nutritional avenues toward a healthy relationship with food

by James Greenblatt, MD

Eating is the instinctive response to the sensation of hunger. However, in the U.S., hunger is not the primary motive of food consumption. Eating evokes positive emotions due to food-induced changes in brain chemistry.

For more than 2% of all adults in the U.S. the desire to maintain this emotional reward on an ongoing basis drives consumption of large amounts of food at a single sitting. Eating has become a common neurobehavioral phenomenon: Pleasure seeking followed by behavioral reinforcement.

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